by Leah Pellegrini
Upon gaining a doctor’s approval, there has been a growing trend of floating during pregnancy. Some take on floating to help reduce back pain while others just love to hear their baby’s heartbeat underwater.
The rise in floating while pregnant has sparked a lot of questions. While any medical questions are obviously best left to the doctors, there are some obvious queries that are clearly float related. Like, ‘how to comfortably float while with child,’ for instance. If you are asked by a pregnant woman for tips on how to float comfortably, the following are a few suggestions.
First of all, assure her it is safe for her to float on her back or her belly. Outside of the tank, this position would be risky for the health of the mom and the baby, however, in the weightlessness of a sensory deprivation tank this doesn’t appear to be the case.*
Let any pregnant woman know to get in and out of the tank cautiously, as the surfaces will be slippery and her sense of balance might be a bit wonky.
Getting Into a Comfortable Floating Position
Successfully accomplishing the following positions may depend on factors such as height, body type, and ultimately personal preference:
You may want to have neck pillows available for your clients’ float. One good option for a neck pillow is a pool noodle cut in half crosswise, so it can fit sideways in your sensory deprivation tank. A pregnant woman can actually lay on her belly while she floats, with her arms across the noodle, and the noodle under her chin to keep her face out of the water. Even if she falls asleep, her head will remain supported by the noodle.
Another suggestion for floating belly down in the water is to have the client put her elbows on the floor of the tank and chin in her hands. The depth of the water is approximately the length of their forearms, so her face will remain dry. Some women find this satisfying as the position provides a great stretch to the spine.
A pregnant floater might also be comfortable crossing her arms under her chin and floating belly down in the water, resting her head on her forearms. This is very similar to floating with a pool noodle, and for some, might be preferable. Floating belly down can be a real release of pressure during pregnancy: a lot of the weight of the growing uterus pushes against the mother’s organs, and letting the salt water support this weight for 90 minutes can be quite blissful.
As far as tips for a pregnant woman floating on her back, just let her know she is safe to float this way (again, pending approval from her doctor). She could use the noodle pillow under her lower back, but she probably won’t need it. Chances are that the Epsom salt will support her and baby beautifully.
This Goes Without Saying, But…
This next statement is common sense but… don’t assume a woman is pregnant. Allow your intake form / waiver take on this sensitive subject. It’s probably best to only offer these floating suggestions if you are asked. If a woman asks for advice, or you already know she is pregnant, rest assured she will love her float experience and appreciate any tips you can share. It is a great time for the mother and baby to bond, and for Mom to get a bit of rest and relaxation.
Dads Need Floats Too
Take this opportunity to suggest that Dad floats as well, after all fathers have needs too! It can be quite stressful and exhilarating preparing for a new baby, and floating is always an amazing stress reliever, regardless of whether or not you actually have another life form actually growing inside of you.
Only With Doctor’s Approval
It’s best to CYA and state upfront that you are not a doctor or medical professional, and any tips you offer come from the personal experiences of previous pregnant floaters. The conditions of every pregnancy can be different and all expecting mothers should seek the approval of their doctor before floating.
Some sources online state that women should not float during their first trimester. There is no data we’ve found to support this concern, but this seems reasonable that it’s in place because many miscarriages happen during the first trimester. If a woman miscarried right after her float, or she attributed a miscarriage to floating, this could be terrible for everyone involved.
Miscarriages happen frequently, somewhere between 5%-75% of pregnancies miscarry within the first trimester depending on the conditions** (the higher percentage in this scale are IVF pregnancies that fail to implant properly and those families can be the most devastated by miscarriages).
Definitely take all of the information presented in this blog post with a grain of salt, and make sure that any pregnant customers consult their doctors.
However, from my personal experience, floating through pregnancy can be a real load off – in many ways.
For more reading, check out my personal blog about floating while pregnant.
For more information on the benefits of floating, check out our Free Scientific Research List.
* The risk is related to a pregnant woman lying down on her back (on a flat surface, not a float tank) is due to constriction of blood flow to the placenta. This can interfere with the development of the baby. Also, the weight of the uterus can put pressure on major veins causing dizziness and discomfort for the mother. In a sensory deprivation tank, this doesn’t seem to happen, because there is no rigid surface behind the mother to cause detrimental pressure on the circulatory system. Furthermore, floating has been shown to have positive benefits such as lowering blood pressure, which can also help a pregnant mother to have healthy blood flow to her heart and to the baby’s placenta.
** statistical numbers gathered from Friedman, Lynn, M.D. and Irene Daria. Miscarriage: A Woman Doctor’s Guide. New York: Kensington Health: 2001